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They clustered in front of St. Stephen's Catholic Church, about 45 minutes before the Mass began, to bid farewell to another Beaver River High School classmate.

The girls clutched tufts of tissues, later reduced to soggy, tattered shreds. The boys jammed their hands into their pockets and shifted their weight from leg to leg. They hugged and cried and stared later as the hearse drove away.

Now, fewer than 40 days apart, accidents had claimed the lives of two classmates. Both boys, Dereck Farney and Michael Ardison, were members of the Beaver River cross country team, a perennial state championship contender.

Dereck, 14, was hit by a car Sept. 13 as he jogged with teammates on a country highway. He died two days later in a Syracuse hospital.

Michael, 15, was riding his bicycle to his girlfriend's house Aug. 7 when he slammed into a truck. He died hours later in a Lowville hospital.

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